Dolphins Select TE Hunter Long in Round 3: Instant Analysis

Breaking down the Miami Dolphins selection of tight end Hunter Long

When the idea of the Miami Dolphins taking Kyle Pitts in the 2021 NFL draft if they had the opportunity was discussed, it was always with the understanding that it wouldn't be so much about filling a need.

Rather, it would be about the opportunity to add a uniquely talented prospect.

The truth is that tight end wasn't a great need entering the draft because the Dolphins have three solid players with Mike Gesicki, Durham Smythe and Adam Shaheen. And that's not even counting free agent acquisition Cethan Carter, who got a three-year contract but is more of an H-back and special teams specialist.

So the decision to take tight end Hunter Long in the third round, with the 81st overall pick, clearly was about taking the prospect the Dolphins thought was the best available at the time.

When it comes to tight ends in the 2021 draft, Long was right there near the top among the second tier of prospects not named Kyle Pitts.

In terms of strengths and weaknesses, Long is a lot more like Gesicki than he is Smythe as he joins the Dolphins as somewhat of a pass-catching specialist.

The addition of Long also could be viewed from a long-term perspective because both Gesicki and Smythe are heading into the final year of their rookie contract and are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents next offseason.

What's going to be interesting is whether there's a potential move coming because the Dolphins liked Shaheen enough last season to sign him to a two-year contract extension and the Smythe and Gesicki are quality players, and keeping four tight ends on the roster is fairly rare.

As a third-round pick, the expectation is that Long will get significant playing time as a rookie, but exactly how the Dolphins will split the tight end snaps will be interesting to follow.